We have proof that lions can cross Highway 101

There’s strong reason to believe that Coyote Valley forms a crucial wildlife link between the Santa Cruz Mountains of the Peninsula, and the Mount Hamilton Range in east Santa Clara County that provides a wildlife connection to the rest of the state.  However huge the area of the Santa Cruz Mountains might be, they’re too small for rare or wide-ranging animals like mountain lions and badgers to survive if isolated.

Some people disagree that Coyote Valley is still a functional wildlife corridor.  Strangely, that doesn’t imply to them the necessity of improving Coyote Valley’s usefulness for wildlife but rather that we should ignore its wildlife linkage value.

They use Highway 101 as insurmountable barrier – lions can’t get across it, they say, so there’s no point in preserving the rest of Coyote Valley so that lions and badgers can make it the rest of the way.

Except we have proof that one lion made it across, and this lion is actually exceptionally slow and clumsy compared to the average mountain lion:

Sea lion rescued after crossing Highway 101 in Burlingame

Sluglike, the beast lumbered across Highway 101, vaulting the median barrier, coming to rest on the shoulder of the Broadway exit, dazed and confused and now eight wide traffic lanes away from the bay it apparently emerged from early Saturday. 

Not a good place for a sea lion. 

Burlingame police got the call shortly before 7 a.m.

Fast Lane Freddy or Bayshore Betty — take your choice, since the marine mammal’s sex remains undetermined — had somehow scooted up and across the freeway, a beautiful 150-pound blob of Zalophus californianus, now sitting in eucalyptus leaves, wondering to him/herself: “What the heck did I just do?” 

“We got between a half-dozen and a dozen calls from motorists saying ‘A sea lion just crossed 101!’ ” said Burlingame police Cpl. Laura Terada. “By the time we got there, he was heading down the ramp actually exiting into Burlingame. Then he sat on a tree stump, just chillin’.”

If a sea lion can slowly bounce its way across Highway 101, then it seems like a mountain lion can do the same thing much more easily.


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